Here is an actual clip-on device that turns your regular bike into a motor-assisted one. It’s light, quite elegant, efficient and, more importantly, it won’t break the bank. Sure, you’re not going to get e-bike levels of performance (range or speed) with it, but then again, it doesn’t claim to do so. According to the makers, CLIP aims to improve the daily commute by making it easier and more fun, and ultimately encourage more commuters to take up biking.
First introduced as a concept in 2019, CLIP made its grand entrance onto the market via Kickstarter, where the Brooklyn-based team of designers crowdfunded for the prototype. As we speak, the first CLIP units are being prepared, with an estimated delivery date set for this spring. The conversion kit has suffered some cosmetic changes from the concept stage, and now presents itself as a sleek device you add to your front wheel by clipping it onto the fork.
Made with a black frame and brushed aluminum sides, CLIP contains a 450W motor powered by a 36V, 144Wh battery. CLIP is friction drive, so a roller attaches directly onto the front wheel, driving the bike forward without the need to add sprockets or gears. It’s plug-and-play, easily attached and easily removed whenever you want to park your bike and take the “e-” with you so that it doesn’t get stolen.
CLIP attaches to the front wheel so as to be compatible with as many bikes as possible, including those used for ridesharing. The principle is not new: CLIP is directly inspired by the VeloSolex bicycle sold between 1946 and 1988 and favored by A-listers such as Steve McQueen and Brigitte Bardot.
As long as the front wheel is 26” to 28” in diameter, CLIP will work. It weighs 7 pounds (3 kg) and will deliver an assisted speed of 15 mph (24 kph) for 10 to 15 miles (16 to 24 km) or a 45-minute commute. A full charge is achieved in just 40 minutes, so even if you do run out of juice unexpectedly, you won’t have to wait for ever to get back on the road.
Named among the top 100 inventions of 2020 by Time Magazine, CLIP is Bluetooth-compatible. It comes with its own app, which you use to turn the motor on and off during the ride, when you need assistance climbing hills or simply want to put in less effort with pedaling. Developers are now working on adding new functions to the app, like gamified CO2 footprint goals. When not in use, the roller acts as a freewheel on the tire.
The biggest downside to this conversion kit is that, for the time being, it’s only available to customers within the U.S. On the bright side, at least it’s affordable, at $399 a pop, of which $50 is a reservation fee payable upon ordering.